Travel isn’t all about sights and taking photographs that look amazing with a little help from Instagram, no, there’s much more to it than that.
Whether we’re talking visiting the Wonders of the World, or heading off on a beach break to somewhere extremely sunny, connecting with residents and locals from the place you’re visiting is just as important as visiting the tourist sites.
Well, think about it this way – what better way to experience culture and customs of a place than to see it first hand and learn from someone for whom this is their way of life? Travel isn’t just sights and sounds, it’s more sensory than that, it’s about experiences, language, feelings, and religion, and if you can come away with a few more friends to add to your Facebook list then you’ve successfully achieved the true meaning of travel.
Despite that, we all know that there are some unscrupulous people out there, so it pays to be wary and not to trust too easily. So how can you achieve this Holy Grail meaning of travel and stay safe at the same time?
Eat where the locals eat
You’ll often find that the locals head away from the tourist streets when they go out for meals. This is always where you’ll find the cheapest and usually most delicious food out there. Of course the other perk of this is that you will meet people by simply visiting one of these traditional restaurants, and simply by chatting, trying your hand at a few of the local phrases, and even asking what something is on the menu, or what they would recommend, you’ll find inroads.
Talk to the staff at your hotel/apartment
If you’re heading to a tourist resort, you’ll come into contact with season workers, but also residents too. Chat to the receptionist, the pool boy, the cleaners. Again, trying your hand at the language, even if you explain as well as you can that you’re learning, means you will be given instant respect for at least trying.
Head to a site such as With Locals
This is probably one of the safer and most organised ways to meet new people within your destination. Simply search for your arrival point and see what results come up. Again, always keep your common sense with you, which is true of whatever you do in life, but using a service such as this means you’re instantly connecting with locals and achieving your aim.
As you can see, it’s simply a case of talking, even if it’s general chit chat. Using services like With Locals before you leave the house gives you a quicker connection, but overall wherever you travel, you’ll find local people are happy to help tourists learn more about their way of life, provided you show respect and try and at least speak a little of their language.